November 23, 2002

Gee, d’ya think?

Today’s headline: “U.S. Probes Possible Saudi-9/11 Link.”

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department is investigating whether the Saudi government funneled money to two students who assisted two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, the White House said Saturday.

A draft report by a joint congressional committee looking into the terrorist attacks says the CIA and FBI ignored the possibility that two of the hijackers, Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, both Saudis, were given Saudi money from two Saudi men they met in California in the year before the attacks, The New York Times reported in its Saturday editions. Almidhar and Alhazmi were on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

The committee also accused the Saudi government of not fully cooperating with American investigators.

The two hijackers met with Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan, who were receiving financial support from the Saudi government, the Times said. Officials were not sure what kind of stipends they were receiving, the newspaper said.

Newsweek said, however, the FBI uncovered financial records showing payments to the family of al-Bayoumi from a Washington bank account held in the name of Princess Haifa Al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi ambassador to the United States and daughter of the late King Faisal.

Sources said the payments amounted to about $3,500 a month. The money filtered into the al-Bayoumi family’s bank account in early 2000, just a few months after Almidhar and Alhazmi arrived in Los Angeles from an al-Qaida planning summit, Newsweek said in a report posted on its Web site Friday night.

Payments for roughly the same amount began flowing every month to Basnan.
Administration officials told Newsweek they did do not know the purpose of the payments from Princess Haifa’s account. They also were uncertain whether the money was given to the hijackers by al-Bayoumi or Basnan.

In its draft report, the joint congressional committee staff said investigators should have followed up on the meetings of the four men to determine whether there was a Saudi connection to the hijacking plot.

Knock me over with a feather. Our good friends, staunch allies the Saudis? Say it ain’t so.

In a related development, the Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether or not sugar contributes to tooth decay.

November 22, 2002

Patronized to death.

The most telling quote of the Muslim-caused carnage in Nigeria the past couple days comes from President Olusegun Obasanjo himself:

“The beauty queens should not feel that they are the cause of the violence,” he said, stating the obvious. Then he added “It could happen at any time irresponsible journalism is committed against Islam.”

Translation: Any time anybody writes something Muslims don’t like you can expect armed gangs of Muslims to roam Christian neighborhoods, burning churches and houses and killing anyone they see.

This from a man who, presumably, is in a position to know: Mindless violence is the stock Islamic response to whatever they don’t like. Don’t try to hold them accountable to other standards, just accept that rampaging gangs of murdering Muslims “could happen at any time” they read something in the paper they don’t like.

The latest news:

Muslims rioters gathered after prayers outside the national mosque in Abuja and then stormed through the usually placid capital, burning cars and assaulting bystanders they believed to be Christian outside plush international hotels…

Bands of Muslims, some armed with ceremonial daggers, stabbed and set fire to passers-by. Young men shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” or “God is great,” ignited makeshift barricades of tires and garbage… In one Christian minority district, an elderly woman sifted through the smoking ruins of her house to retrieve pots and pans.

Muhammad must be so proud.

The Crusades, in miniature.

Christians are banding together to fight back, and no doubt in time to come the whole sordid affair will be remembered as the Crusades are – Christian violence against poor innocent Muslims. The Crusades were an effort to stop a Muslim military campaign which had already defeated large populations of Christians in the Levant, but all anyone in the West remembers today is the Muslim lie that it was a campaign of vicious, unprovoked aggression by a lot of money-mad plunderers.

There is probably no area of Western history subject to more misunderstanding, ignorance and direct distortion as the history of the Crusades. One heroic scholarly effort to sift the truth is being made by Thomas F. Madden, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. Professor Madden is the author of numerous works, including A Concise History of the Crusades, and co-author, with Donald Queller, of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople.

Professor Madden finds that “the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression – an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.”

Far from being instigated by Christians, as today’s Thought Police would have you think, “... the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death.”

Professor Madden’s research has established that Muslim armies were "extremely successful:”

Palestine, Syria, and Egypt – once the most heavily Christian areas in the world – quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Those who organized and financed the Crusades invariably lost money, Professor Madden found. Very few benefited in any way.

In short the Crusaders and Christians in Nigeria have this much in common: Fighting for self-preservation against Muslims. And, as America found out on 9/11 and Israel’s known for some time now, he who defends himself against Islamic aggression will be blamed for starting it.

November 21, 2002

Islam, religion of peace.

As if it wasn’t bad enough when Muslims protested the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s correct characterization of Muhammad as a “terrorist” by rioting and killing people in India, a remark in a Nigerian newspaper has now led to the deaths of over 50 people and a number of burned churches:

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Rioters stabbed pedestrians and torched churches during violent demonstrations Thursday in the northern city of Kaduna. The Red Cross said more than 50 people died and 200 were wounded.

The protests were triggered by a newspaper article suggesting Islam’s founding prophet might have chosen a wife from among contestants in the Miss World beauty pageant in Nigeria.

More than 50 people were stabbed, bludgeoned or burned to death and 200 were seriously injured in the violence in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods, Nigerian Red Cross President Emmanuel Ijewere told The Associated Press. At least four churches were destroyed, he said.

Many of the bodies were taken by Red Cross workers and other volunteers to local mortuaries. Many others remained inside homes that were set afire by the demonstrators, Ijewere said.

“A lot of people died. We don’t know yet exactly how many ... more than 50,” he said. Shehu Sani of the Kaduna-based Civil Rights Congress said he watched a crowd stab one young man, then force a tire filled with gasoline around his neck and burn him alive. Sani said he saw three other bodies elsewhere in the city.

Alsa Hassan, founder of another human rights group, Alsa Care, said he saw a commuter being dragged out of his car and beaten to death by protesters.

Schools and shops hurriedly closed Thursday morning as hordes of young men, shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” or “God is great,” ignited makeshift street barricades made of tires and garbage, sending plumes of black smoke rising above the city. Others were heard chanting, “Down with beauty” and “Miss World is sin.”

So… there’s no indication any of the people or churches had anything to do with the comment in the newspaper, but they died and were burned anyway because… well, because that’s what Muslims do when they’re upset, I guess.

I’m sick and tired of these people saying oh, violence and terrorism aren’t true Islam, they’re a distortion of true Islam. Rubbish. With atrocity after atrocity after atrocity, with Christian workers being shot in the back of the head in Pakistan, with Muslims bombing Bali entertainment clubs and killing 190 people, with al-Qaeda attracting thousands of foot soliders and millions of dollars in contributions from ordinary Muslims all over the world, with Jemaah Islamiyah building a substantial network in Indonesia responsible for a string of murders and planning to blow up international schoolchildren, with gangs of Muslims rioting in Pakistan, India, Nigeria and elsewhere, killing and burning and looting whenever they read something they don’t like, with Muslims throwing bombs in Christian churches in Pakistan and killing women and children, with Palestinians bombing Israelis to death almost daily and dancing in the streets at 9/11 and Kuwaitis holding parties to celebrate 9/11 it must be plain to all by now that violence, far from being any kind of distortion, is in reality the very heart and soul of Islam.

”… to the last Palestinian.”

In The Wall Street Journal today Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington says a Palestinian acquaintance ruefully observed recently that “The Arabs are willing to fight the Israelis to the last Palestinian.”

I’d thought that was fairly obvious ever since Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat statehood with 90% of the Palestinian demands met and a timetable for negotiating the rest. Arafat’s response? Reject it and ramp up the suicide bombing. Which showed as clearly as it could possibly be shown that it’s not statehood he’s after.

What Arafat really wants is what the Arab states really want: The destruction of Israel. Palestinians are merely the cannon fodder in the war.

If the Arab world genuinely wanted to solve the Palestinians’ plight they could do so virtually overnight. Jordan and Lebanon give land for resettlement, the oil sheikhdoms write a few checks, boom, problem solved. But a settled Palestinian population with a future is the last thing Arabs want – who then would volunteer to strap on the suicide bombs?

The Palestinian people, as Mr. Alterman’s friend noted, are nothing more than shock troops for the war against Israel, as far as the Arab world’s concerned. They must be kept agitated, they must be kept landless, they must be kept suicidally hopeless. And the problem must somehow be painted as Israel and America’s fault, even though it’s the Arabs themselves who hold the solution to the Palestinians’ problems in their hands.

Time to restock the fishin’ pond.

Just wondering if anyone else has noticed that the only two Democrats elected President in the past 38 years, Clinton and Carter, were Southern governors from the more moderate/ conservative wing of the party? And that they were genuine Washington outsiders, governing Southern states before coming to Washington?

This does not bode well for Democratic Presidential hopes in the near future, as the only Democratic Southern governors are Ronnie Musgrove in Mississippi, Mark Warner in Virginia, Mike Easley in North Carolina and the newly-elected Phil Bredesen in Tennessee. Certainly no Presidential timber there.

Governorships are by far the most successful launching pads to the presidency. Only James Garfield, Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy have been elected from Congress to the Presidency. Of the eighteen 20th century presidents eight were governors, and four of the last five.

In other words, the Democrats’ pool of potential Presidents isn’t the chattering nitwits on Capitol Hill – thank the Lord – but the governors, preferably Southern, dealing with day-to-day issues in the states. That there aren’t any promising Democrats in that pool means the fishing’s gonna be pretty slim for the foreseeable future.

November 20, 2002

Cardboard leaders.

Look, if you’re a Christian, which I am, sooner or later it comes down to the brute fact that you’re a Christian because you believe that’s the only way to salvation.

Christians do lots of wonderful things – bake sales, Christmas pageants, The Crusades – but if Jesus isn’t risen from the dead for the salvation of mankind then we are, as St. Paul noted, of all men the most to be pitied, for our religion is the most worthless.

There’s only one essential message we Christians have to bring to the world: Repent and be saved. Apart from that there is no reason for Christianity at all. None, nada, zip, zilch. Apart from the fact of the risen Christ’s atonement for sin we’re nothing but a social ethics club.

So how in God’s name can so-called Christian leaders concern themselves with such trivia as what kind of cars their parishioners drive when there’s a world out there going to hell for lack of the Christian message? Exhibit A:

DETROIT (AP) - A group of religious leaders came to the Motor City on Wednesday with a proposition for U.S. automakers: Start producing vehicles that are kinder to God’s creation, and we will urge the faithful to buy them.

If my minister ever said from the pulpit “As Christians, I think we all should be driving Brand X car,” I would stand up and walk out and never go back.

The delegation, which included representatives from a variety of Jewish and Christian organizations, met with executives and top officials at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers.

Evidently top officials at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and the UAW had their golf date rained out.

Earlier, the group introduced a “What Would Jesus Drive?” television advertising campaign, sponsored by the Pennsylvania-based Evangelical Environmental Network.

No doubt you’ve been holding off on purchasing a car to see what the group recommends. (Jews concern themselves with what sort of car Jesus would drive?) Besides, as my former interim pastor said, “I still don’t understand how anyone could purport to know what kind of car Jesus would drive. Wasn’t he accused of being a glutton and connoisseur of fine wine? Given that, he probably would be accused today of driving a way too big SUV.”

The ad, to begin airing in limited markets next month, says too many vehicles are polluting, then asks: “So if we love our neighbor and we cherish God’s creation, maybe we should ask, ‘What would Jesus drive?’”

Answer: Nobody alive has any clue. Personally, my friend said, I think Jesus would probably be driving a 25 year old VW Beetle, which, with its worn piston rings and faulty carb, would be getting less mpg than a 2003 Lincoln Mountaineer, not to mention all the hydrocarbons it would be belching into the atmosphere.

Poor Jesus never fares well at the hands of the religious hierarchy of the day – cf. the Pharisees. This “What Would Jesus Drive?” onanism brings to mind Max von Sydow’s character’s pronouncement in Woody Allen’s Hannah And Her Sisters: “If Jesus came back today and saw what was being done in his name, he would never stop throwing up.”

Representatives of GM and Ford said they looked forward to a dialogue with the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign’s leaders to explain advances and challenges in the effort to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

And to move some iron.

The religious groups – which include the Korean Presbyterians, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, [and, gulp, my own] the Mennonite Church – are promoting hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, as well as other fuel-saving technologies, framing their arguments in both moral and economic terms.

Trying to serve God by invoking mammon. It’s been tried before. Hasn’t worked. Besides, Mennonites weighing in on how cars should be made has all the resonance of Orthodox Jews criticizing the salt content of Smithfield hams.

“If you in the American auto industry manufacture and market more clean cars, we in the American religious community will not only tell our people about it, but we’ll have prepared them to embrace such a change,” said David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington.

David who? American religious community? Some Jew nobody’s ever heard of is speaking on my behalf as a member of the American religious community? Boy if it’s that easy here goes: Sam Adams Brewery, I’m speaking to you on behalf of the American football-watching community when I say if you lower the price of a six-pack to $1.99 I will not only tell my fellow football watchers, but I’ll prepare them to embrace such a change.

As many as 100,000 congregations and synagogues nationwide have been contacted about the cause, and more notifications by letter and e-mail are planned, said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the New York-based National Council of Churches of Christ USA.

Is this where my offering is going, to support such time-wasting crap as this? Hey, do we let GM tell us how to preach sermons? Of the 100 things Jesus could possibly want Christians to be occupying their precious time and energy on Earth with I’d think quibbling about miles per gallon would be about 374th.

Conservation is something non-Christians do as well or better than Christians per se. We do not need Christians in the forefront of the Better Gas Mileage crusade when they could be at the front of the Spread The Christian Message crusade. There is only one reason for the existence of the Christian church at all: To spread the Christian message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Everything else is window dressing, and I’m sick to death of cardboard leaders claiming to speak for me on the economy, the war with Iraq, school vouchers and now gas mileage.

Does the Christian poseur clergy really wonder why their churches are emptying like a 500-pound skunk farted in the middle pew? They’re spending 98% of their time on things the secular world does a far better job at, and they’re studiously ignoring the only raison d’etre for Christians at all.

If they’d really rather be social activists more power to them, quit the ministry and go off an be social activists and let somebody preach who’s interested in expounding the Word of God to the congregation instead of repeating half-baked leftist political slogans.

The James ossuary.

I haven’t blogged on the James ossuary – the first-century burial box with the Aramaic inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” recently unearthed in Israel – yet because I wanted to wait about a month and see how things shook out.

I feel anyone who needs to offer a professional opinion probably has by now, and judging from both the expert opinion of non-Christians and the befuddlement of the professionally stupid anti-Christian class of people who call themselves Skeptics I’m fairly confident the ossuary’s genuine.

On a Web discussion board once I had the misfortune to run into one of these wild-eyed self-proclaimed atheist Skeptics, and I have never been exposed to a more hate-choked, thought-free mind. She was one of those hard-core Skeptics who claims that there is no proof Jesus existed, and stated as “FACT!!!!” that none of the Bible was written in the first century, etc.

No proof of anything, of course, just a lot of brainless screeching and hurling insults left and right – the atheist stock-in-trade – against anyone who dared disagree.

Once I told her that as a Christian I thought atheism wrong and logically impossible (which it is, an atheist says that he’s searched the entire universe and has not found God anywhere, and that he’d know what God looked like in the first place, both ridiculous claims), and she lambasted me as a Torquemada-wannabe “intolerant fruitcake asshole” who was probably in the Taliban, homeschooled his kids and was a “creationist, which equals misogynist.”

I always felt like taking a shower after answering her posts. Believe me, there’s nobody in the world more emotionally-driven than a self-proclaimed rational skeptic.

The debate.

As the Skeptical position attracts those short on brainpower and long on fear I can only imagine the vapid stupidity ricocheting around the Skeptic world these days over the ossuary. Here’s the best that would-be debunker Daniel Lazare, author of a recent Harper’s cover story on archeology “refuting” the Bible’s claim to history can do: “The odds against it are really huge. I mean, James was...We're pretty sure that James lived. We're pretty sure that Jesus lived. But James was a pretty obscure guy who, you know, was just one of millions of common folk in that part of the world."

Okay, stack that confused spluttering up against the claims for the ossuary:

· Eric Meyers, professor of Judaic Studies at Duke University says he has “no question it is an artifact from the first century.”

· The Geological Survey of Israel analyzed the ossuary and found no reason to doubt its authenticity.

· John McRay, author of Archaeology and the New Testament says during testing “six different pieces of the patina of the stone were looked at” in the lab, and “it was verified, by people who are not Christians, that the date on this is first century and there is no evidence of recent disturbances of the box.”

· Ossuaries such as the one found were used by Jews only from about 10 to 70 A.D. James the brother of Jesus was traditionally supposed to have died 62 A.D. Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary says analysis of the lettering dates the ossuary to ca. 60 A.D.

· André Lemaire, the renowned French expert in ancient inscriptions who examined the box, says while all three names on the ossuary are fairly common, the combination of them in this order would apply to less than one percent of the population at the time.

The real question.

That’s an awful lot of highly-respected experts to piece off in the cause of a forgery, and I’d like to see someone try to convince the Geological Survey of Israel, a nation which has outlawed Christian missions, to fabricate proof for an ossuary bolstering Jesus’s claim to historical authenticity.

One common misperception among non-Christians is that we’re always scouring the world for proof of Jesus’s existence, that we’re as anxious to “prove” he existed as Skeptics are to prove he didn’t.

We’re not. We know he existed. Whenever proof of his existence does arise – other recent discoveries have confirmed the New Testament accounts of Pontius Pilate and the high priest Caiaphas – Christians shrug their shoulders and say yeah, so? The ossuary’s discovery rated barely a page in the latest Christianity Today and is not mentioned once elsewhere.

Catholics have reason to be concerned, however, since the Aramaic inscription saying that James was the brother, not cousin, of Jesus does not bode well for their inexplicable teaching that Mary remained in a state of perpetual virginity after giving birth to Jesus. Catholics hold that the people the Gospel writers clearly refer to as Jesus’s brothers and sisters are really stepsiblings or cousins, although they have no proof of that beyond really, really wanting it to be true. That the ossuary calls James the “brother” of Jesus renders such a belief untenable.

But the real question is not whether Jesus existed historically, almost no reputable scholars today ever doubted Jesus’s existence in the first place. The contention is over who he was, and the ossuary does nothing to “prove” that he was the Son of God. That’s still where Kierkegaard’s leap of faith comes in, and nobody is going to discover a bridge for that anytime soon.

It’s Carnival time!

Once again, thanks to the savants over at Silflay Hraka for including Clubbeaux in Carnival of the Vanities, their best of the blogs weekly roundup. Lots of good stuff to be found, so take a few minutes checking it all out.

November 19, 2002

Befriending terrorists.

It is frequently argued that were we to “understand” militant Islam, get to know it, invite it over for tea and sit down and listen and sympathize with its goals and show that we trusted its innate goodness, that militant Islam would approve of us and stop killing us.

Proponents of such idiocy need to have their noses rubbed in the animalistic Kibbutz Metzer murders of last week. According to The New Republic the five people who were murdered by Yasir Arafat’s Al Aqsa terrorists – a woman walking with her boyfriend in the moonlight, a kibbutz leader, a mother and the two small children to whom she was reading a bedtime story – were members of probably the most pro-Palestinian kibbutz in Israel.

Kibbutz Metzer is on the far left of the kibbutz movement, its inhabitants vote overwhelmingly for the dovish Meretz Party, and it had “genuinely good relations with its Israeli Arab neighbors and rather decent relations with its Palestinian neighbors across the green line,” according to TNR. “Metzer still believed that its eager amity with the Palestinians could be a light to the two peoples.”

The kibbutz had recently protested a security fence the Israeli Army wanted to build around the kibbutz, arguing that their good relations with the Palestinians were protection enough. That’s what you get for trusting terrorists – shot dead reading a bedtime story to your children.

You can’t make this stuff up.

From today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page:

The 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is this January. Planned Parenthood is sponsoring a poster and artwork contest on the theme “Behind Every Choice Is a Story.” PP stipulates that “Children under age 18 must have a parent or legal guardian’s permission to submit their designs and for us to publish it along with their name.”

So Planned Parenthood’s position is that a minor does not need parental notification, much less permission, to have an abortion, but must secure signed permission to submit a drawing to a contest.

As a wise man once said, straining out gnats and swallowing camels. Honestly, is there any more ludicrous hypocrisy in America today than militant liberalism?

Tired of Augusta.

Look springbutts, once and for all: Augusta National Golf Club has a 100% gold-plated Constitutionally-certified all-American right to admit whomever it damn well pleases and exclude anyone it damn well pleases from its grounds. It is a PRIVATE CLUB. As Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun writes, “Call the old boys’ club snobby, pompous, prejudice, out of touch or simply small-minded. But don’t call it wrong.”

That’s America, campers. Private clubs get to set their own rules. Don’t like it? Go start your own club. When the snooty society toffs in New York in the 1880s refused to let arrivistes such as the Vanderbilts and Goulds purchase opera boxes at the Academy of Music they said fine, went down Fifth Avenue and in 1883 built the Metropolitan Opera House. Within two years opera at the Academy went out of business. It’s the American way.

Hootie Johnson, one of the most progressive and inclusive members of the Southern establishment (see below) is standing up for the rule of law in America when he says we’ll admit women when we think it’s time. He is not a racist, he is not a misogynist, he has, according to members, been working quietly and low-key, Southern-style, behind the scenes to get members to admit women for some time now.

Of course I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Augusta, seeing as how they’ve rejected Bill Gates – several times – for membership. At least Gates has the decency not to go crying and squawking on Crossfire about it.

Thought Police Officer Martha Burk, on the other hand, is a shrill, self-righteous, publicity-hungry intellectually unarmed hypocrite nitwit. She does not give the first damn about having women join Augusta, all she cares about is getting her ugly face on TV and in the papers as frequently as possible. I’ll believe all her pious blather about discrimination and rights and blah blah as soon as she publicly attacks the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto for specifically excluding men from membership.

Women are not excluded from the grounds at Augusta. Women played over a thousand rounds of golf at the club last year, with no restrictions on tee times or clubhouse access. The University of South Carolina women’s golf team came to Augusta at the personal invitation of Johnson for 18 holes. All the women could talk about afterwards was what a gentleman Johnson was.

Augusta National’s charter does not exclude women. There is no written policy excluding women at the club, the club simply hasn’t admitted any yet. The Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto specifically excludes men. You tell me where someone who really is concerned about true discrimination would be protesting.

Insults and food fights.

But it does amaze how correct Anne Coulter was when she said liberals can’t think anymore, they can only insult. Paul Begala had Martha Burk on Crossfire and Hootie Johnson, wisely, declined an invitation to appear. Begala wondered aloud why “a grown man who calls himself Hootie… [or] Bootie or Cootie or whatever his name is… is too frightened to come on Crossfire and debate a woman.”

The juvenile nature of the gratuitous insult makes any thinking adult cringe, and the myopic arrogance that assumes an invitation to appear on some catfight TV show is a Holy Grail astounds everyone outside Manhattan and the Beltway. Of course viewers weren’t told that Johnson had open-heart surgery in September and might not be up for it, they were simply left to draw the obvious conclusion that Johnson was too much the dignified adult to, in Kathleen Parker’s phrase, “food-fight with Begala and Burk on national TV.”

Of course given the complete lack of any Constitutional, legal or common-sense substance to her position, throwing cheap insults and food-fighting is all Thought Police Officer Burk and her gang can do. Sad.

November 18, 2002

When gun control happens to a country.

Thanks to Bleeding Brain for “How The British Maximize Crime”, a review of Joyce Lee Malcolm’s Guns and Violence: The English Experience just published by Harvard University Press.

How well has the 1997 British law making outlawing handgun ownership (and most other firearms) worked in preventing violence in Britain? Your chances of being mugged in London are 6 times higher than in New York City. Assault, robbery and burglary rates are far higher in England than in the U.S.

And that’s just the reported crimes. As Malcolm notes “the English police still grossly underreport crimes. The 1998 British Crime Survey found 4 times as many crimes occurred as police records indicated.”

It’s not just guns either: Malcolm tells of a youth, fearful of being attacked by a gang, who was arrested for carrying a cycle chain. After police disarmed him, he was set upon and hospitalized as a result of a brutal beating. Nevertheless the unfortunate lad was prosecuted for “carrying a weapon.”

Hand in hand with this is the 1967 revision of British common law making self-defense almost criminal; self-defense of person or property is today considered an “antisocial” act. Malcolm writes: “In 1999 Tony Martin, a farmer, turned his shotgun on two professional thieves when they broke into his home at night to rob him a seventh time. Mr. Martin received a life sentence for killing one criminal, 10 years for wounding the second, and 12 months for having an illegal shotgun. The wounded burglar is already released from prison.”

(Be warned: In America a prosecutor now gets to decide if your level of force in self-defense was “appropriate.” Britain, here we come.)

Malcolm’s conclusion of how well strict gun control’s worked? Seeing as how in Britain today only outlaws have guns prosecutions for handguns rose 40 percent between 1997 and 1999 and people today are machine-gunned in residential London neighborhoods, “its failure could not be more flagrant.”

Muhammad would have been so proud.

The latest plan by poor oppressed Muslims struggling to show the true face of peaceful Islam to a suspicious world: “Hey, let’s blow up hundreds of infidel school children.”

From today’s New York Times:

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Nov. 17. The Qaeda network that carried out the terrorist attack in Bali is responsible for past plots against the United States in Southeast Asia, and is now planning to strike at Western students at international schools in Jakarta, Western and Indonesian officials said today.

The plan to attack the schools was uncovered in the last few days, and officials said the schools would be closed until at least Wednesday.

Officials declined to say precisely how they had learned of the plot, but the United States and Australia have stepped up their electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering here since the Bali attack on Oct. 12, which killed more than 180 people, many of them Australians.

The intelligence about the plot against the schools was as “specific in detail and of similar seriousness” to that which caused the Bush administration to order the closing of the American Embassy here in September, the diplomat said. That threat caused the United States to go on a heightened alert.

Based on the latest information gathered by Western intelligence agencies, diplomats said the planned attack was directed primarily at the Jakarta International School. The school has 2,500 students, about a third of whom are Americans, on three campuses across this teeming city. It has classes from kindergarten through high school.

The Australian and British schools also plan to close, diplomats said tonight. They are to remain closed until the Indonesian police provide adequate security, a diplomat said.

Protecting students is difficult not only at the schools, officials said, but also on their way, because they typically travel on buses that take designated routes, or are driven by their parents in cars that bunch up outside the schools before the class day.

The plotters are a cell within a larger Qaeda network that has carried out several terrorist actions in Indonesia, and nearly succeeded in blowing up the American, Australian, British and Israeli Embassies in Singapore last December, officials said today.

Those who argue that oh, al-Qaeda’s just a bunch of misguided zealots should keep in mind how popular al-Qaeda is in most of the Islamic world. If it was truly a rouge organization which didn’t strike a chord in most Muslims’ hearts it would not receive the popular support, funding and hundreds upon hundreds of willing foot soldiers it attracts in Muslim countries all around the world.

In fact al-Qaeda is widely tolerated in the Islamic world, praised and abetted by thousands of “ordinary” Muslims who themselves might not push the detonator to blow up hundreds of infidel school children, but who wouldn’t turn in the guy who did either.

The most obscure country in the world.

Is there any country about which the world’s population is more ignorant than the United States?

Think of a country you don’t know anything about – Madagascar, say. Belize. Kiribati. You’re not ignorant of those places as much as innocent of them. You have no incorrect assumptions about Madagascar, and whenever you learn something about Madagascar it maintains the purity of your knowledge – you don’t know anything wrong about the place. You’re free of fallacious stereotypes or false notions about Madagascar.

As I can attest, first from teaching international students learning English in Washington and Boston for years then working in Istanbul for four years, few people in the world really know the United States – but every single person on the planet thinks they do.

Nobody thinks they know anything about Kiribati, so they’re willing to be taught about Kiribati. Nobody’s willing to be taught about America, since they’re proud of the fact that they “know” already from TV, movies, pop music or the local anti-American state-controlled media. 99% of the time they’re wrong, but there’s no telling them that. Even those who come here see only what they’ve been conditioned to expect.

Case in point: In USA Today this morning there’s an article about Arabs bellyaching because their visas to America, which they consider a birthright, are taking a little longer to process these days. Putting aside the fact that Arab culture is the most breathtakingly arrogant culture on the face of the planet, these people seem not to realize that America is at war against, primarily, Arabs seeking to destroy the country, Arabs who have said they will continue terrorist attacks against the country and Arabs who are carrying out a strategy of planting terrorist cells inside the country.

The astonishing thing is that Arabs are still granted tourist, student and medical visas at all. Would a German complain about the lengthy delay in securing a tourist visa to London in 1940? Or would he complain, as Matar al-Muhairi, former director of health services in Abu Dhabi did “Why do you treat everyone as criminals?” No, presumably a German citizen in 1940 would understand what was going on.

Hans and Marlena, Hamburg, ca. March 1941:

“Ach, Marlena, ze embassy say we cannot go see Stonehenge zis summer.”

“Racism, Hans, dis racism. Ze English, they are such anti-Germans.”

This myopia is compounded by the fact that Arabs simply cannot blame themselves for anything. A Canadian nurse working in Riyadh told me once that if you’re a foreigner in a taxi in Saudi Arabia that crashes, you get out and run because everyone involved, all the Saudis, will claim the crash was your fault. It certainly couldn’t be an Arab’s fault if there’s a foreigner around. If there’s any sort of problem on the street the first thing Saudis do is grab a foreigner – a passing Filipino maid, anyone – and blame them.

This is not a culture capable of examining itself, its actions or their consequences critically, but which is extremely capable of whining when those consequences occur. It certainly isn’t one to understand that its own actions are to blame for the fact that maybe Abdullah can’t take the wives and kids to Disney World this year.

It’s inconceivable that somebody could be so ignorant of America as to not realize that we’re a country at war right now, especially somebody from the culture which foisted the war on America, but that’s what happens when you’re the most obscure country on earth. Even the people at war with you don’t realize it.